Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Mediterranean Salad with Quinoa

I haven't been feeling well and therefore have not done much cooking recently. I decided I wanted a Mediterranean salad with orzo but when I went to Trader Joe's they didn't have any in stock. Since I was not willing to go anywhere else I decided I would use Quinoa. I served it warm but it is good cold, in fact I think the flavors come together more if you let it sit for a while, but it worked out well with my garlic lemon chicken and fresh green beans (Ryan & Krystal snapped the beans).

Tara cut most of the vegetables for me. Nathan decided it was not for him (shocking right? Mr. picky) but everyone else liked it. In fact some went back for more several times.


2 Cups Quinoa (or 16 ounces orzo)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup Kalamata olives, chopped
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 cup diced seedless cucumber
1 cup marinated artichoke hearts, drained then chopped
3/4 cup feta cheese
handful chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
freshly ground black pepper to taste
sea salt to taste

Cook Quinoa as instructed on package (be sure you rinse it well before cooking) or prepare Orzo in salted water. Put hot Quinoa into large bowl.

While Quinoa is cooking combine the olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon zest and lemon juice in a small bowl. Pour dressing over hot Quinoa and toss well, let sit for about 5 minutes.

Add the olives, tomatoes, onion, cucumber, artichokes and feta cheese toss, mixing well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Can be served hot, cold or at room temperature.
From Food

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Chocolate Bottom Pumpkin Bars

I saw this recipe for Chocolate bottom banana bars on

They look so good but I am allergic to bananas. I don't mind making banana bread for the kids and friends but I would rather make something I can try. I decided to try using solid pack pumpkin, not pumpkin pie mix, but pure 100% pumpkin puree (Libby's is the brand I use).

I made a 9 x 13 pan and cut them at about 6 p.m. by 9:30 there were only 6 pieces left! The kids, their friends and I love these. Now if you remember I really like pumpkin and Chocolate together as seen in my Perfect Chocolate chip cookies but these are quicker, easier and wonderful!

I used mini chocolate chip cookies because that is what Ryan brought home from the market. They all decided they liked the way the minis looked but I think I would like to use the regular semi-sweet chips most of the time.

Here is how I modified the "Just Cook Already" recipe. I thank them for sharing I hope they will forgive me for changing a few things.

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. fresh ground nutmeg
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup baking cocoa
1 cup Semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used minis this time)

1. In mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add egg, vanilla, pumpkin, cinnamon and nutmeg, beating thoroughly.

2. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, soda, baking powder, and salt. Add to creamed mixture and mix well.

3. Divide batter in half. Add the cocoa to one portion of the batter. Spread that portion in the bottom of a greased 9 x 13-inch baking dish (I lined pan with parchment paper). Spoon remaining batter on top, swirling gently with butter knife if desired, and sprinkle with chocolate chips.

4. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until batter tests done with a toothpick or fork. Cool and cut into 24 squares.
From Food
From Food

Party Cheesy Bread!

This is a winner!

I saw this recipe and had to try it. It has all the my family's favorites. While it was baking Nathan came out of his room and asked "What is that heavenly smell?"

It takes a few minutes to put together but you will love the results. Give it a try.

1/2 c. butter, melted
2 T. lemon juice
2 T. Dijon Mustard
1-1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. celery salt
1 round loaf sourdough bread (1 pound)
1 lb. Monterey Jack cheese, cut into thins slices

In a small bowl, combine the first six ingredients; set aside.
From Goodies

Cut bread diagonally into 1 inch slices to within 1/2 inch of bottom of loaf. Repeat cuts in opposite direction.
From Goodies

Arrange cheese slices in cuts.
From Goodies
From Goodies

Drizzle butter mixture over bread.
From Goodies

Wrap loaf in foil; place on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Uncover; bake 10 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.
From Goodies
From Goodies

Christmas Day

Christmas Day was nice and quiet around my home. As usual we had breakfast before gifts. This year Tara chose and decided on Belgian waffles with mixed berries and whipped cream with turkey bacon on the side. The kids opened their gifts, had some fun with each other and made a mess as usual.

Luis and Alma came over about 10 a.m. and we all exchanged gifts. Nathan left with them since is was Luis' weekend. Tara went to help a friend move that evening so it was just Ryan and I. It was nice to have a quiet day at home.

Christmas Eve

This year we all got together at my Dad's on Christmas Eve. Amy made a wonderful dinner and thankfully shared her salad and dressing recipe with me.

Adam and Marie decided that they were giving their Christmas away this year. They told Sebastian he would get one gift worth $50 or less. At first I am sure he was not thrilled with the idea but he seemed to really enjoy the experience. They adopted a family for Christmas (Marie's uncle, his wife and 13 year old son). This family struggles more than most and really do their best to provide for their son. They only have the bus for transportation and from what I understand no luxuries at home.

Saturday before Christmas Adam, Marie and Sebastian all volunteered at a food bank for the whole day. When they were done the people who ran the food bank gave them about 10 bags of food. They took it directly to this family and spent some time with them. Sebastian noticed that the son didn't have any video games (and that is a tragedy to some) and he wanted to do something for him. Monday before Christmas they delivered Christmas to the family and invited them to join us for Christmas Eve dinner. They have no other family locally and typically spent holidays alone.

I asked Adam if we should get a gift for the son but he said not to worry about it that they had taken care of everything. I had made my usual spread of goodies and prepared a gift package of these goodies for this family just like the I do for the rest of the my family.

During our gift exchange the son was given a gift and when he opened it he was PSP games. He is such a nice kid. He thanked everyone and got up and gave hugs while looking a little shocked to get a gift at all, after all they had already received gifts earlier in the week. Adam asked him if he had a PSP and when the boy said no Adam told him he was really sorry and that he would make sure he was able to exchange it for something else he really wanted. The boy said it was okay, he liked his gift. Then the second came around and once again a PSP game and movie! The boy again thanked everyone and told Adam not to worry about it. The final gift of the night turned out to be for this boy. At this point all of us who know Adam well knew what was about to happen. The boy opened a box and and when Nathan asked him what it was he said 'a Disney box'. The kids asked him what was inside. He opened the box and quietly said 'cords' and then dug deeper and found a PSP (with a case). The boy was speechless and about to cry. It was so wonderful to see someone so incredibly grateful. I am happy my children were able to see this and participate. I think they all learned a good lesson. Here is the secret to it all. That PSP as well as all the games were Sebastian's. He takes VERY good care of his things and they were like new. AND it was his idea. HE wanted to give this to the boy. I am very proud of my nephew. Adam, Marie and Sebastian did a wonderful thing.

Ryan had to work but joined us at the end of the night. All the kids (and Adam) played Rock Bank for about an hour and a half before we all headed home.

The Christmas spirit was felt by all.

Winter Concert

One night after the play closed Tara participated in the winter concert at school. All the choirs, bands, orchestras and the new drum lines played. It was a long but good program. All the kids in the audience loved the new drum lines. They really were very good.

Tara is in Advanced Choir. They performed a few songs and I decided I really need to get a video camera, at least I got one picture. It is hard to see but she is the fifth from the right (only blond) in the back row.
From Winter Concert SGHS 2009


Tara was in the fall play at school. The theater was set up as a 'theater in the round'. The title of the play was "Yerma" about a woman who desperately wanted a child but her husband would not give her one. It was originally set in Spain about a 100 years ago, but the students decided they wanted to make a statement about the treatment of women in the Middle East in current times so the location was changed. I am not a huge fan of this play and felt that the location change may not have been wise, especially because the characters still referred to the Arroyo and had Latin names just to name a few of the things that bothered me. My father has decided that anytime he sees a bad movie he will now to refer to it as a "Yerma", although he thought Tara did her part well.

In spite of the problems the play had (some of the actors could not sing) they did their best. I being the UNBIASED parent (cough) I think Tara was one of the best (she can sing and act). Like I said.....totally, completely unbiased.

Tara hated this play and hated her costume. I told her she looked beautiful, in fact she should wear the costume everyday so she is covered up properly. Tara disagrees.

Here are a few pictures from the play.